|our arboretum engagement photo-shoot ~ Autumn 2012|
practiced is loving patience. It requires
some time to bring any two lives into
perfect unison so that they shall
blend in every chord and tone.
—J. R. Miller
There are no measuring sticks, cookie-cutters, or manuals for the first year of a tender and young marital love. There is only the uprooting of two lives and the transplanting of them into deeper soil, where they have only the soft tendrils of each other's arms to lean upon.
Days pass when both shall dance with a mutual resonance of honesty; then, days when both feel estranged to one another. There enters new fears, fresh with the reality of two individuals so boldly and starkly unlike each other. Then, the burdens and the misfortunes come to pay a visit, or, perhaps, a long holiday. The strife of financial matters, external or internal trials, grievances of one's health, the loss of something or someone outside the marriage, the disappointments of a dream or ambition placed on hold, the failures and inadequacies brought upon by the limits of both individuals. Monotony of ordinary life, thrills of blessings, and discouragements of reality are all threads that form their days.
It is the shimmering brilliance and fading valor of our humanity tasted afresh; the pains and joys are felt ever more as real in the shallow pool of two lives birthed into one.
It is very true to say that both shall feel as child-like as ever in the first years; nothing will require more learning, observing, listening, and practicing than the blending lives of the Groom and his Bride.
There are no demands to conform to anything except to the heart and mind of Christ.
There are no carefully mapped-out results to be reached within the span of the first years, except the result of a deeper affection and trust for one another.
There are no obligations to be as others are, to settle where the expectations and wishes of others meet, except to naturally blossom into their true selves, to settle where they can mutually thrive.
It is the voice of the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of trusted counselors that must find precedence; yet, it is also the trusted submission of husband and wife to each other, who, in the end, make the decision, the steps.
A new life is woven upon entering a Spirit-breathed covenant. A shedding in the leaving, a freedom in the cleaving.
Safety, protection, mutual submission, trust, and devotion come ever-slowly to the surface when both man and wife intentionally cleave to one another even when the edges of their frames puncture into one another. The brute honesty of their thoughts and emotions will uncomfortably penetrate the very fabric of the being they vowed to love and treasure as their own flesh. Many times it will not be done with the gentleness, the patience, the graciousness of manner that they declared they would do it in. Apologies will seem insufferable to deliver at times. Yet, the pressing together of their two lives will bleed sweetly as they continue to yield to each other. It is for them to know the the fathoms of this unearthly thing called grace; unmerited favor on our best days, on our worst days.
Marriage is no prison or hindrance to becoming our true selves. It is the fertile ground, the garden, in which our true selves will one day taste the sweetest fruition. And it takes time, patience, endurance. Grievances, differences, trials, blissful blessings and all. The embracing of all bitter and bright delivers the truest of loves. Covenant Love.
Through marriage, "a person is given the opportunity of opening like a flower and becoming perfectly natural, perfectly himself. And yet this true self of his turns out, surprisingly, to be someone he himself has never met before, someone just mysteriously different enough from the real self he thought he was that it can only be described, finally, as someone entirely new. Or someone who has been there all along, perhaps, but who has finally become self-confident enough, through the grace of love, to step out of the shadows. For that is what love does: It brings people out into the light, no matter how painful that transition might prove to be.
Love aims at revelation, at a clarifying and defining of our true natures. It is a sort of sharpening process, a paring away of dull and lifeless exteriors so that the keen new edge of a person's true self can begin to flash and gleam in the light of day..."
"A diamond cannot be cut with a tin saw, and neither can a hawk fly with a butterfly. A person, to grow keen and shining and real, needs love, which is to say, needs another person: "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17). And sharpening is a painful process: Extract the pain from love, and there is nothing left."